Satanic Temple Loses Religious Freedom Abortion Case

State will maintain 72-hour waiting period despite conflict of Satanist’s religious beliefs.

The Satanic Temple (TST) suffered a legal setback in the Missouri Supreme Court which involved members of the satanic group claiming religious rights to have an abortion despite Missouri's 72-hour-long waiting period. The court ruled that a woman, identified in court documents with the anonymous name Mary Doe, does not have any right to file a case against the state’s stringent laws inhibiting abortion.

The seven judges unanimously agreed on February 13 that Mary Doe has failed to prove the informed consent law approved by the state and the waiting period of 72-hours have violated her personal beliefs as a member of TST. Doe is a resident of Greene County, Missouri. Zell M. Fischer, the Chief Justice, wrote a concurring opinion, pointing out that the Supreme Court of the United States “has made it clear that state speech is not religious speech solely because it ‘happens to coincide’ with a religious tenet.”

As per Missouri state laws, abortion providers must distribute a booklet published by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services which includes a statement having the content of life being kindled at conception, and the act of abortion will end the life of a unique, living, and separate human being.

Mary Doe, the plaintiff in question, found herself pregnant in 2015. In February that year, she went from her home to a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis for abortion. She informed the doctors at the clinic her religious beliefs conflicted with the content of the booklet and claimed there was no requirement to follow the rules of informed consent. Planned Parenthood disregarded her requests and followed the Missouri state provisions, which are a required waiting period of 72 hours and performing an ultrasound on Mary Doe.

The subsequent lawsuit filed by Doe claimed the Missouri law violated the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution. These laws stopped the government and its establishments to have an official religion. Doe also claimed restriction of her free choice of religion, which violated the Missouri Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Her complaint cited TST beliefs that the body of a woman cannot be violated and it is subjected to the woman's alone. As per TST beliefs, health decisions should be made on science, even if such a method clashes with political or religious beliefs. Doe contended that the pregnancy is a “human tissue” and is a part of the mother’s body and is not another human being.

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